President Barack Obama stooped below the dignity of his office this week when he criticized the Koch brothers for supposedly fighting clean energy in favor of their own business interests, Charles Koch tells Politico.
"It’s beneath the president, the dignity of the president, to be doing that," Koch said.
Koch suggested that Obama's words were intended to help Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who hails from Nevada, where Obama made his speech.
"[Y]ou start seeing massive lobbying efforts backed by fossil fuel interests, or conservative think tanks, or the Koch brothers pushing for new laws to roll back renewable energy standards or prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding — that’s a problem," Obama said at the National Clean Energy Summit on Monday.
Koch, who is chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, said he and his brother, David, aren't opposed to clean energy at all. In fact, they have invested in it.
The brothers' problem is with government subsidies, he said, and they oppose them even for fossil fuel industries that would benefit Koch Industries.
"I was absolutely flabbergasted that he could say so many things about us that were the opposite of the truth," Koch told Politico. "I was really dumbfounded. And I know he was there with Harry Reid. So we expect that with Harry Reid, but I didn’t expect that from the president."
Obama said that the Kochs and other libertarian and conservative groups usually tout themselves as champions of the free market.
"But in this situation, they’re trying to undermine competition in the marketplace, and choke off consumer choice, and threaten an industry that’s churning out new jobs at a fast pace," he said. "That’s not the American way. That’s not progress. That’s not innovation. That’s rent seeking, and trying to protect old ways of doing business and standing in the way of the future."
Koch didn't take kindly to that statement.
"I don’t know whether he knows what that phrase means, but 'rent seeking,’'of course, is, in economic terms, is getting the government to rig the system in your favor," Koch said.
"And that’s exactly what these so-called 'renewable energy' proponents are doing."
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